In preparation for the week's activities, Chef Lucy Saunders had shipped her cooking implements ahead of her.
And carefully wrapped inside the bag, then re-wrapped, and wrapped again, was a wheel of cave-aged cheddar from Wisconsin, 1-3/4 years old [from Willi Lehner's Bleu Mont Dairy in Blue Mounds, WI].
Two years ago, when new, it had weighed 10 pounds. Now, it was 8 pounds, due to moisture evaporation while aging. The cheese seemed to combine the savory/sweaty aspects of Parmesan with the nutty/sharp flavors of Cheddar. Some who tasted it ascribed the weight loss —after a couple of beers— to the "angels' toes share".
I assisted Lucy in un-bandaging it. You'll notice the gloves we were wearing; they kept our hands aroma-free.
Lucy began by prying one edge of the bandage from the side of the wheel. Then she pulled and sliced the bandage clear from all sides. It took awhile; the cloth was stuck fast to the cheese.
Even after peeling off the bandage, many fragments of the cloth remained stuck to the wheel as were specks of mold— signs indeed of successful aging, but not necessarily appetizing.
Lucy scraped them all off with a grill brush.
Just as we finished, Ian Morrison—chef at The Royal Mile Pub in Wheaton, Maryland—returned from a four-hour bike ride. (In addition to owning the Pub, he is an avid bicyclist and racer.)
As you can see, Ian was genuinely surprised and pleased by Lucy's gift of the Bleu Mont Dairy Cheddar wheel.
The next evening, for the Beer Cookbook dinner at his Royal Mile Pub, Ian plated some of the cheddar for an amuse-bouche.
Click for more photos.